johnmac's rants

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Bonnie McBird's New York City Launch Of Her Sherlock Holmes Thriller, "Art In The Blood"

Screenwriter, Educator, Technologist, and, now, Mystery Writer Bonnie McBird will have the New York City Launch of her Sherlock Holmes adventure. "Art In The Blood", on Tuesday evening (6:30PM), October 6th  at Otto Penzier's "Mysterious Bookshop" (55 Warren Street, NYC, 10007). Cookies and Champagne will be served.

Both Bonnie, also author of the screenplay for the movie "Tron" ( and Otto ( are previous guests on the "johnmac Radio Show". The Huffington Post review of the book, "Art in the Blood - A Rousing Sherlock Holmes Adventure" is available at

Peter Walsh and I Will Discuss Bars, Literature, and All Other Things Irish on Tonight's johnmac Radio Show.

My guest on the johnmac Radio Show  tonight (Sunday, October 4th at 7:00PM) is Saloon & Restaurant owner (co-owner of Coogan's Restaurant adjacent to New York Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights), graduate of Marist College and Trinity College (Dublin), poet, playwright, songwriter, philanthropist, and devotee of Irish Literature Peter Walsh (boy, that's a mouthful!). Join us by clicking: on your web browser or calling 
646 716-9756 on your telephone -- and use the phone to join us on the air (I hold the participation of callers until near the end of my conversation with my guest).

Peter recently donated his Irish-American library, including a rare James Joyce first edition, to the Glucksman Ireland House at New York University.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Author Lucian K. Truscott IV and the "Big Chicken"

Chapter Thirty of author Lucian Truscott's on-going online memoir is available at The chapter, entitled"Dying of a Broken Heart", is extremely poignant and, in my estimation, worth reading by any and all.

Lucian is a West Point graduate and direct descendant of army officers as well as of Thomas Jefferson, as his Wikipedia Biography (    points out. His Amazon Author page is at

Friday, October 02, 2015

More From The Newsroom …

(This column was first published in the Westchester Guardian of October 1, 2015 --

Creative Disruption  
by John F. McMullen   
Creative Disruption is a continuing series examining the impact of constantly accelerating technology on the world around us. These changes normally happen under our personal radar until we find that the world as we knew it is no more.  

More From The Newsroom …

Two weeks ago, the column in this space was entitled “Newspapers –Alive, Dead, Or Just Changing?. In it, I wrote that the New York Daily News was for sale. Subsequent to my writing that, news filtered that now bids that the ownership deemed sufficient had been received and the paper had been taken off the market.

Rumors then appeared in the New York Post, the News’ competitor in the New York tabloid market that many of the News’ well-known top writers would be leaving the paper and that it was rumored that the News would be going to a three day “digital-only” delivery with a four-day print and digital delivery. The News quickly denied the reduced print schedule but did not comment on the employee reduction.

The following week, I received a note from a friend and ex-longtime News employee -- “On background, 43 people have been laid off at the Daily News since Wednesday and heads continue to roll. “ – and the following Sunday (September 20th), Mike Lupica’s column contained the following: “Finally today:

“Friends of mine, some of the best I have ever had in the newspaper business and some of the best people with whom I have ever worked – and with whom I will ever work— left the Daily News this past week.

“There are so many names, but at the top of the list are Teri Thompson, as truly great an editor as I have known in this business; and my Hall of Fame sidekick, Bill Madden; and Filip Bondy, of course, who takes his talent and his wit to whatever he does next.

“I will miss them mightily, because they were all part of the beating heart of this place, for a long time.

“You should miss them more.”

(Notes on the above Lupica statement – when he refers to Bill Madden as his “Hall of Fame buddy” isn’t just dealing in hyperbole; Bill Madden is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown – a tribute to his knowledge of the sport and his expertise in writing about it over a long period – also, bizarrely, the day after reading the Lupica column, I heard a News radio ad extoling the “award-winning News Sports Department under the leadership of its editor Teri Thompson”. Perhaps, that ad should have been pulled!)

There are also rumors that Lupica, who I consider the best sports columnist since the late and great New York Herald Tribune and New York Times columnist Walter “Red” Smith, will, himself leave the paper by the end of the year.

What all of this portends to me is that, without some business miracle, we may well be watching the demise of the News and that saddens me. I have watched the end of the Herald Tribune, the New York Sun, the New York World Telegram, The New York Journal American, and the New York Daily Mirror and, with the loss of each one, New York City lost great voices – Jimmy Cannon, Walter Lippman, Walter Winchell, Stanley Woodward, Max Case, Bob Consodine, Jim Killgallen and his daughter  Dorothy, Victor Risell, Robert Ruark, Grantland Rice, Drew Pearson, and many more – with each merger (first The “World Telegram and Sun” and then the ill-fated “World Journal Tribune) and newspaper failure, the city lost not only the jobs associated with the papers but choices of divergent views – and now we are left with four papers, The Times, Wall Street Journal, News, and Post but only two, the News and Post are built for subway reading – and we could have one less.

I would personally feel the News’ demise more than the others because it is the first newspaper I remember being interested in once I got beyond only caring about the comics part of the paper. My father, a New York City Police Officer often worked nights and, on his way home, he would pick up the News, Mirror, and Herald Tribune, and I would tear into the News and Mirror (the Tribune was over my seven year old head) for their sports coverage. I was obsessed with devouring baseball news and information and, if I didn’t finish the sports sections of the papers before I had to leave for school, I would chance my father’s wrath by stuffing the News sports pages into my pockets before I ran out the door – additionally, the News’ Dick Young and the Mirror’s Dan Parker were my first exposure to column writing and, in this way, I learned the difference between news reporting and opinion writing – a distinction that hopefully served me well though years of reporting, editing, and column writing.

As I got older and the sports obsession continued to grip me, I and many of my friends would stand evenings on a corner by a “candy store” and wait for the “early bird” editions of the News and the Mirror to come up about 9:15 PM – a few would buy the papers (together, the two papers cost under .10) and we would all devour the sports sections and then discuss what we read. When I took the papers home, I would often read the other parts of the paper, concentrating always on the columns – Winchell, Pearson, the conservative John O’Donnell in the News – and that experience later got me into the Times and the Herald Tribune (each cost .05 .. and then .10 .. and then, during my early working years, .25).

So I would really miss the News – it was the last stop of two of my favorite newspaper columnists, Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin – Pete’s brother Denis Hamill (Dennis with one “n”) still writes for the News and there is, of course the aforementioned Lupica.

When we in New York the great multiplicity of newspapers that I mentioned above, we had a diversity of viewpoints that is totally lacking today – and most of those who I teach of see socially don’t read any newspapers; they “get their news from the Internet!” Unfortunately, most who do this only go to sources that agree with their positions – just as with television; surveys have shown that conservatives don’t watch Rachel Maddow and liberals don’t watch Sean Hannity. I fear that, as more and more of the print journals disappear, we will see more and more hardening of political views.

I feel that we need to be regularly re-evaluating our positions and we won’t be doing this if we constantly only see positions that agree with us. I was happy, therefore, to see a piece by Jason Fried today ( in which he reviewed an interview with Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and wrote “He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

“This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary.

“What trait signified someone who was wrong a lot of the time? Someone obsessed with details that only support one point of view. If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time.
Great advice.

Bezos has done fairly well, both in building a business and in changing the world as we know it so his views are, at least, worth considering.
The subject of bringing together divergent views brings me back to conversations that I have recently had on my radio show with computer scientist Lorien Pratt (ps:// and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Hedrick Smith.

I welcome your comments on these points to
John F. McMullen is a writer, poet, college professor and radio host. Links to other writings, Podcasts, & Radio Broadcasts at, and his books are available on Amazon.
© 2015 John F. McMullen

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Saloon owner,and devotee of Irish Literature Peter Walsh is my guest on the johnmac Radio show

This week my guest on the johnmac Radio Show (Sunday, October 4th at 7:00PM) is Saloon owner, r​estaurateurp​hilanthropist, and devotee of Irish Literature Peter Walsh. Join us by clicking: on your web browser or calling 
646 716-9756 on your telephone -- and use the phone to join us on the air (I hold the participation of callers until near the end of my conversation with my guest)

I also encourage free subscription to my daily curation of the news, "johnmac's news of the day". Check it out at --- Articles for the paper are curated from the New York Times, Reason Magazine, New York Daily News, Wired Magazine, New York Post, the Nation, Washington Post, National Review, Guardian, Vanity Fair, Miami Herald, the Atlantic, MIT Technology Review, USA Today, Mother Jones, Denver Post, and other sources.I wish people would try it, comment to me about it ( and subscribe -- Only 1 e-mail per day with an article index is received and, as mentioned above, it's free!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Conversation With Hedrick Smith On The "Reclaiming Of The American Dream"

My conversation tonight with Pulitzer Price winner Hedrick Smith on tonight's "johnmac Radio Show" (September 27, 2015) is available at

Smith's on-going project "Reclaiming the American Dream", which has its roots in his 2012 book, "Who Stole The American Dream" (,
is brought out in depth in tonight's interview as well as in his marvelous TEDx talk, "Can We Heal Our Great Divide?"
and his own website of the same name


Barbara McMullen, Fala the Wonder Dog, and I were in the Cold Spring Depot in Cold Spring, NY today and, in the course of a terrific dinner, were presented with a riddle -- which I now present to you (I was told by the host that, when Bill & Hillary Clinton were in, they did not get the answer -- one of my party of three did get the answer). Send solutions to me at

The Beginning of Eternity
The end of time and space
The beginning of every end
And the end of every race

What am I?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Black Irish Identities: The complex relationship between Irish and African Americans + Peter Walsh Donation To NYU's Glucksman's Ireland House

I just saw Moloney & Stern (mentioned in the article with video) at NYU's Glucksman's Ireland House last Saturday, September 19, 2015. The occasion was the donation of a library of Irish Literature (including a rare first edition of James Joyce's "Ulysses") to the Center (and NYU, which offers a Masters in Irish Studies) by Peter Walsh, co-owner of Coogan's Restaurant (with Inwood native Dave Hunt), next to New York Presbyterian Hospital, Broadway at -- 169th Street, NYC. Peter will be a guest on my Radio Show on Sunday, October 4th.
Another Inwood Native (and Saloon Owner) Steve McFadden was also in attendance
Glucksman Ireland House explores the identity of the Black Irish in the US.

Bill Callahan is the Grand Marshall of Long Beach's October 3rd St. Brendan The Navigator Parade

Inwood native Bill Callahan, ex-NYFD and ex-owner of Long Beach's "Saloon" will the Grand Marshall of the "St. Brendan The Navigator Parade" on October 3rd in Long Beach -- part of the day long "Irish Festival". Information at
THE OFFICIAL LONG BEACH IRISH DAY WEBSITE FOR St. Brendan the Navigator 2010 Irish Heritage Day Parade and Festival

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Pope Francis' Address To The Joint Session Of Congress -- Video and Full Text

In my judgement, the talk should be watch, re-watched, & re-watched and the text studied until it all sinks in. The Pope spoke not only to Congress or to Catholics or to Americans but to the entire world. Speaker Boehner gave him the stage and he used it well. 

He spoke of 4 Americans -- Lincoln amd MLK, Jr, obviously great ones, and two of my special heroes, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton -- Both,of whom, I think deserve canonization -- as does MLK, Jr -- who should be the first non-Catholic canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Video (From WCBS TV in New York City):

Full Text:(From Mother Jones Magazine):

Mr. Vice-President,
Mr. Speaker,
Honorable Members of Congress, Dear Friends,
I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in "the land of the free and the home of the brave". I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.
Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.
I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.
My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self- sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.
I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that "this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom". Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.
Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.
The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.
In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.
Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.
Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his "dream" of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of "dreams". Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our "neighbors" and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.
In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.
How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.
It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. "Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good" (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to "enter into dialogue with all people about our common home" (ibid., 3). "We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all" (ibid., 14).
In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to "redirect our steps" (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a "culture of care" (ibid., 231) and "an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature" (ibid., 139). "We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology" (ibid., 112); "to devise intelligent ways of... developing and limiting our power" (ibid., 78); and to put technology "at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral" (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.
A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a "pointless slaughter", another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: "I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers". Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).
Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.
Four representatives of the American people.
I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.
In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to "dream" of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.
In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.
God bless America!

Are You A Full Time Employee? …

(This column originally appeared in the Westchester Guardian of September 24, 2015 --​ 
Creative Disruption  
by John F. McMullen   
Creative Disruption is a continuing series examining the impact of constantly accelerating technology on the world around us. These changers normally happen under our personal radar until we find that the world as we knew it is no more.  

Are You A Full Time Employee? …
... or are you a part-time employee or a consultant or a freelancer or an adjunct professor or a substitute teacher or … and the list goes on. If you’re in any of these categories, it probably means that you have no  benefits and whatever taxes taken out of your pay are not really enough to cover the taxes when your pay is added to your other income (if you are in any of these categories, you must have other income to survive).

In fairness, some of the jobs listed above – very few – may occasionally have benefits. I currently am an adjunct professor at the State University’s Purchase College and the State University’s adjunct professors are members of the UUP, the union that represents the full-time professors. Provided the adjunct teaches a certain number of hours, some benefits are available (ex – I get a pair of glasses a year, a benefit not covered in my primary insurance) – but, in thirty years of adjuncting, this is the first time that benefits were extended to adjuncts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in August of this year, the part time employment rate was 18.1%. The calculation of “part-time employment,” however, does not focus on the “jobs” that a person works but, rather, how many hours the person works a week – 35 or more hours, you’re full time; less than 35, you’re part-time.

The 18.1% contains people who prefer to work part-time as well as those who would rather have “a real-job” – one with benefits. Using the 35 hours a week as soul criteria is also suspect as I personally know that there are part-time workers who are working more than 35 hours a week --- adjuncts who work at more than one college or are part-time consultants; freelance construction may have long term gigs but have no guarantees of how long; computer consultants who are hired for a job that may require weekend testing and 60 hour weeks (been there, done that) but when the job is over, so is the relationship; and this applies to any freelance job.

Michael Schrange said it well in his 2013 Harvard Business article, Prepare for the New Permanent Temp (, writing “As this blog observed literally three years ago: ‘Most people looking for a job today aren’t competing against each other. They’re competing against alternative ways to getting that job done. For most organizations, people are a means and medium to an end. They’re not hiring employees, they’re hiring value creation. If they can get that value — or most of it — from contingency workers, outsourcing, automation, innovative processes or capital investment, why wouldn’t they? If [technically] tweaking a process or program empowers three people to do the work of five, then tweakonomics is the way to go. The profound difference between today [2010] and 2005 is that good hires looked like better investments than great tweaks back then. In 2010, good tweaks look like better bets than even great hires.’

“The “New Permanent Temporary” has arguably been the biggest employment change since I wrote that post. Like Smartphones, part-timerism’s global growth proliferates. In fact, temps with Androids and iPhones already use services like Gigwalk and LinkedIn to more profitably find and manage their part-time and/or temporary work. Amazon has its below-the-radar “Mechanical Turk” workplace market. For the gainfully underemployed, everyday is BYOD; their technologies are becoming their toolkits. Technology doesn’t just facilitate automation and innovation; it makes contingent, temporary and part-time job markets more efficient and effective.

“The economic irony for both sides of the enterprise equation is that maximizing the value of part-time employment has become a full-time job. Employers from WalMart to PepsiCo to Adecco to Microsoft pay premiums to assure their armies of independent contractors and temps cost-effectively get the job(s) done. Conversely, serious part-timers quickly learn that productively juggling several temporary positions requires more skill than luck.

The movement to part-time work is, of course, not always a choice of individuals desiring this path or, even, a result of the corporate planning which Schrange points to above. It is often because there is a major shrinkage in US jobs.

The announced layoffs by Hewlett-Packard of up to 30,000, on top of its recent layoff of 55,000, bring into focus the shrinking job market. Eighty-five thousand people (85,000) are more than live in most towns in the United States. Where will these people find work? Some will not. Some will have to relocate to other parts of the country, disrupting family lives.

Obviously, some of these 85,000 people performed necessary tasks at HP; tasks that will be still be needed to be performed after the completion of the splitting into two firms. So some, if not many, of those laid off will be brought back – but as “consultants.” This means that they will usually get higher hourly or daily wages than they were receiving as employees but no benefits! – and, when the consultant can be replaced by an automated system, a cheaper consultant, or another reshuffling, there is no severance, no unemployment, etc. There is nothing owed to the consultant “on the way out the door” as there would be to an employee.

This condition is not unique to Hewlett-Packard. It is happening all over the country. Factory workers are being replaced by robots – middle managers and customer service personnel are being replaced by office automation and artificial intelligence systems – computer software is writing sports game stories – computer generated music is ready to be played for Broadway shows – and the list just goes on and on.

So what is a person to do to develop and maintain employability? The most important rule is to always have a marketable skill, enhancing it as necessary, for the “here and now” and always be “looking over your shoulder” for what comes next – what skills you don’t have which will be needed in the future. If you don’t have an up-to-date marketable skill, you’re unemployable today; if you aren’t prepared for what comes next, you’re unemployable tomorrow!

Next, insure that your social media profile is up-to-date. Your pages on Facebook, your blog, and particularly on LinkedIn must be up-to-date and show the best professional side of you. People have been made offers, based on their LinkedIn profiles, by companies with which there had been no previous contact.

If there are any rumblings of cutbacks, mergers, and / or layoffs, you should have an updated strong resume ready for posting on one of the well know search jobsites such as Indeed (, Monster (, and CareerBuilder ( Additionally, it can be helpful to go to Craigslist (, which combines job opportunities, grouped by location with housing and services, also grouped by location. A quasi-complete list of search firms may be found at

For college students and others looking for part-time work, there are task oriented sites, such as TaskRabbit ( and UpWork (, which have short or long-term assignments for those with the skill-sets matching the requirements (you can post your skills, which should be constantly updated, on these sites for automatic matching). It’s also worth reviewing these sites on a regular basis to determine which skills are in demand.

Robert Reich, ex-Secretary of Labor and author of many books on the way the economy and work place are evolving (including “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future” (the basis for the motion picture “Inequality For All”) and brand new “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few”) is only one of the pundits who do not see this direction in American business reversing itself. He writes in Aftershock, “It should be apparent that there will be no return to ‘normal,’ because the old normal got us into our present predicament and can’t possibly get us out” and restates the present situation on his blog ( -- a must read), “the wages of average working people continue to languish as jobs are off-shored or off-loaded onto ‘independent contractors.’” The only way for us to cope with this condition is to both understand the situation and to always have both an up-to-date marketable skill and a plan for what may come next.

I welcome your comments on these points to
John F. McMullen is a writer, poet, college professor and radio host. Links to other writings, Podcasts, & Radio Broadcasts at, and his books are available on Amazon.
© 2015 John F. McMullen

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